DID may be another psychological disorder best understood and recognized within a continuum of experiences. Mild disassociations of the self and bod y appear acceptable and even healthy while at the polar extreme opposite end of the continuum are individuals identifying with multiple personalities with minimal and no integration of the alter egos, and little control over these disossociations.
An important diagnosis criterion is the extent of which individuals feel out of control of their alter-egos. In contrast, an example of a healthy disossociation would be one during meditation as one feels they may temporarily access a different plane of being, or a different realm of conciousness and not within their physical body. At the other end of the continuum or scale ( Wright &Loftus,1999) and a bit more un-healthy may be persons with diagnosis of DID, where these individuals have mutliple personalities, are not wholly integrated with their alter-egos, and are working through their defense in their alter-ego to cope with trauma or abuse.
Noteworthy to the DID discussion are some cultural implications. For instance governing journals around this disorder are not in consensus (Hersen, Turner, & Beidel, 2008). While the APA has waxed and waned with categorizing DID independently as it stands now from the four other dissociative disorders (APA 200-06), the ICD-10 still nomenclates it as multiple personalities.
Key to this disorder are the areas in which a person must invent a alter-ego to deal with their reality. It's not uncommon for people to have to pull out strength from parts of their personality that otherwise lie dormant within them, or as some psychologist believe, lie entrenched in the subconcsious.
In a mild and culturally revered continuum disassociation example, famous R&B artist Beyonce Knowles has talked at length about her alter-ego, Sasha Fierce, for when it's time to perform for thousands in her audience. Sasha is even noted as having certain songs on her album I am Sasha Fierce while Beyonce has certain milder, reflective songs more indicative of her quiet personality. While Beyonce remains healthy and integrated between her true self and her alter-ego this past year, it is fascinating to know that she felt compelled to create an alter-ego to manage her performances as an artist earlier in her career and her environmental press challenged aspects of her identity.
Though later on in interviews (Allure, February, 2010) Beyonce did some personal work and allowed herself to recognize the Sasha is partly her and that she is allowed to take on and fully integrate herself into her stage persona (Crosley, 2010). Greater analysis is warranted to balance Beyonce's psychosocial, developmental, and identity needs as a twenty-something against the lure of fame, riches, paparazzi, and grueling schedule while on tour. It's not uncommon for famous people and celebrities to invent multiple facets of themselves, or alter egos to get through the demands placed upon them. This identity stretching may be promising in a career as many famed individuals make good actors and actresses in consequence to their environmental press.
While clearly Beyonce will not be receiving a clinical diagnosis of DID, others will. Upon further understanding of the realm of experiences and symptoms to meet the current DSM-IV-TR diagnosis would be the attribute of memory loss, or not being able to account for time while an alter-ego has taken over the client. This speaks to severity along the continuum of functioning with DID. Imagine the problems that inexplicable loss of time would create in an individual's personal and professional life?
This author remains deeply intrigued in all facets of the disorder from authors that write of claims of leaving this plane of existence within parapsychology and perhaps DID as well as the other end of the continuum in those that have a diagnosis of DID as a defense mechanism largely due to trauma, abuse, suggestion in therapies, or iatrogenic causality.
American Psychiatric Association (2000-06). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV TR (Text Revision). Arlington, VA, USA: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.. p. 943.
Crosley, H. (2010). Beyonce says she killed Sasha Fierce. Retrieved 1/04/2010 at:http://www.mtv.com/ news/articles/1632774/20100226/knowles_beyonce.jhtml
Hersen, M., Turner, S., & Beidel, D. (Ed.). (2008). Adult psychopathology and diagnosis (5th ed.). New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Press.
Knowles, Beyonce (2008). I am Sasha Fierce. Columbia Records.
Wright DB, Loftus EF (1999). Measuring dissociation: comparison of alternative forms of the dissociative experiences scale. The American journal of psychology The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. 112, No. 4)112 (4): 497–519.